Economic Development Newsroom

Muhammad Ali Center Reaches Another Milestone

Monday November 1, 2004

Today, the Muhammad Ali Center celebrates the pinnacle point of its steel construction with a “Topping Out” ceremony that brings the development of Muhammad Ali’s international center one step closer to reality.

The construction began in early August after the completion of the city’s parking garage on which the 93,000 square foot Ali Center headquarters is being built.

Michael Fox, president and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center said, “We are extremely grateful for the commitment shown by the MAC4 construction management team, over 35 other contractors, their families, and hundreds of supporters who have believed in our mission and who have helped us reach this significant point of our development.”

The MAC4 construction management team consists of Gilbane Construction, Mathis and Sons, KBB Construction, and David Cosby and Associates.

“The Ali Center will be a keystone addition to our booming downtown,” said Mayor Jerry Abramson. “The facility will reach far beyond Louisville, to people across the world, sharing the Champ’s spirit of kindness, understanding, and community.”

Lonnie Ali, vice chair and co-founder of the Muhammad Ali Center, expressed the importance of having the Center be built here. “It was our wish that the Center be built in Louisville, our hometown, Mrs. Ali said. Even though Muhammad ‘belongs to the world’ his legacy began here.”

The Center, opening one year from now in November 2005, has a mission that includes preserving and sharing the legacy and ideals of Muhammad Ali and inspiring both children and adults to find the greatness within themselves. Many organizations, including Morton’s the Steakhouse, find this mission to resonate with their company’s own values.

“Morton’s, the Steakhouse is honored to be partners with the Muhammad Ali Center,” said Roger Drake, Vice President for Communications at the Morton’s Restaurant Group, and an Associate Corporate Sponsor of the Ali Center’s. “Muhammad Ali’s belief of supporting kids and adults to be the best they can be and to promote goodwill, hope and understanding among all people is analogous to Morton’s own core values and mission in supporting its more than 4,000 employees in 65 steakhouses worldwide.”

Immediately following the “Topping Out” ceremony, over 300 invited guests assembled to Morton’s where they were treated to a strolling dinner party in which major fundraising announcements were made by the Ali Center. Three locally owned corporations were responsible for stepping up toward the end of the grant deadline and helping the Center to meet and exceed its matching two million dollar community challenge grant. Those companies, whose gifts amounted to a value exceeding three-quarters of a million dollars, are PepsiAmericas, Kentuckiana Division, Marriott Louisville Downtown, and Hamilton Printing. Also, YUM Brands, Inc. increased their gift to the Center by $500,000 and Humana by $200,000. Other corporations participating in the community match were: the LG&E Fund ($110,000) and the Anthem Foundation ($100,000). Approximately 30 other individuals and corporations made contributions, as well.

“PepsiAmericas is honored to establish a long-term relationship with the Muhammad Ali Center. Over time it is our desire to assist in promoting the Center throughout the region and Midwest. The Kentuckiana division values our partnerships as part of our franchise equity. With existing prestigious venues, we have demonstrated the ability to assist Louisville’s newest crown jewel, the Muhammad Ali Center, as a tourist destination attraction. We believe our investment will continue the growth of our community and we encourage other companies to step into the ring and help honor Louisville’s most famous native son, Muhammad Ali.”

“We are proud to be a partner in the community with the Muhammad Ali Center,” said Jon Peck, General Manager of the Louisville Marriott Downtown. “This is an exciting time for Louisville with all the development downtown, including both the Louisville Marriott downtown and the Ali Center. The Center will help bring more people to Louisville not only because of Ali’s fame, but more importantly because of the type of people who will come here to use the facility. We look forward to working with them.”

The Kentucky Convention Hotel partners, LLC, owns the hotel, while White Lodging Services, headquartered in Merrillville, IN, manages the hotel.

Steve Bass, chief executive officer of Hamilton Printing said, “Hamilton is very pleased to be a new supporter of the Ali Center, for we embrace its missions and goals and
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ook forward to the major addition it will be to our city, county, and state as a tourist destination. It gives us great pride to help Muhammad and Lonnie in helping to achieve their longtime dream of building a center that will help people all over the world.”

The Ali Center, an international cultural and educational institution which, when completed in Fall 2005, is expected to make a profoundly significant contribution to global society. Through a non-traditional visitor experience that leads visitors through theme-based pavilions on respect, dedication, confidence, conviction, giving, and spirituality, partnering institutions, and public programming, the Center will not only tell the tale of one man’s journey, but will invite participants to embark on their own paths to pursue their personal best and to be an impetus for a more respectful world.